Reader Dave S. was disturbed by the graphics in the inaugural World Happiness Report, published by Jeffrey Sachs's Earth Institute (link). It's a 200-page document with lots of graphs, many of which require rework.
Here's a pie chart showing (purportedly) what "happy" people in Bhutan are happy about:
I'm really curious how these domains add up to 100% exactly. Since the data came from some kind of survey, you typically would allow each respondent to pick more than one domains in which he or she is happy. If that is the case, then it would not make sense to add up responses, nor would the total (100%) signify anything.
If, on the other hand, respondents are forced to pick only one domain, it is very suspicious that all 9 domains would essentially receive the same number of votes. Nor would it make sense to ask survey-takers to select only one domain if all 9 domains contribute to someone's happiness.
Pie charts are perhaps the most abused chart type. There are just endless examples of poorly executed pie charts (just browse my last few posts). The prevalence of abuse may be reason enough to ban them.
Paired with Figure 4 shown above is Figure 5 shown below, which deepens the mystery:
Compare the captions. What's the difference between "In which domains do happy people enjoy sufficiency?" and "Indicators in which happy people enjoy sufficiency"? The categories are related but not identical (Education vs. Schooling, Health vs. Self reported health status, etc.) However, in Figure 5, the distribution is uniform as in Figure 4. Is the data contradictory? Or the captions misleading?
This column chart would be better presented as a horizontal bar chart so that readers don't have to break their necks trying to read the category names.
The designer should also perform the routine task to get rid of the 120% tick mark on the proportion axis that comes from Excel.